RailwayAge Play It Safe PTMW
Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Next CSX-sponsored race: Darlington. But first, Talladega

Written by  William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

Furniture Row Racing/CSX Play It Safe Chevrolet driver Regan Smith is without a doubt thinking about repeating his 2011 win at Darlington on May 12, but right now he’s focusing on the May 6 restrictor-plate race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Smith has been in a bit of a slump the past three races, and is hoping to turn things around at Talladega, where he crossed the finish line first in 2008 but lost the win to Tony Stewart in a controversial decision by NASCAR involving a pass below the yellow line.

“Odds against him, Regan Smith still has lofty wish list for Talladega,” the Furniture Row Racing team posted on its website (www.furniturerowracing.com.) “

He might not call it a fantasy, but Smith’s goal this weekend is to have a clean, mistake-free, and controversial-free race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. 



“‘It is possible to have that kind of race at Talladega, but history will tell you the probability of it happening doesn’t carry good odds,’ said Smith. ‘But we set our goals high and are always looking for that perfect race.’

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While Smith would love to have the perfect race in Sunday’s Aaron's 499 Sprint Cup race at the 2.66-mile oval, he would most likely settle for a solid effort and strong finish, which would end a three-race slump that saw him drop from 18th to 25th in driver points. 

‘After the past three races (finishes of 23rd, 24th and 27th), we need a turnaround performance to give us a jump start in the right direction,’ explained Smith.

“There’s probably not a better venue than at a superspeedway for Smith to achieve that much-anticipated performance. ‘Superspeedway racing has been a strong suit for both Furniture Row Racing and me,’ noted the 28-year-old Smith. ‘Maybe not the finishes, but the performances over the years at Daytona and Talladega have proven that fact. We’ve been right there contending for a win, but something has always seemed to bite us. We’ve had mechanical malfunctions, been collected in multicar wrecks, and of course that controversial penalty at Talladega (October 2008) that cost me a victory.’



After crossing the finish line first in the 2008 fall race at Talladega, NASCAR ruled that Smith passed Tony Stewart below the out-of-bounds yellow line. The victory went to Stewart while Smith dropped from first to 18th in the finishing order. (See the video of that Talladega finish by clicking HERE.)

“‘The only way to forget about what happened back in October 2008 is to take the checkered flag again and then drive to Victory Lane,’ stated Smith.



“Along with being at a superspeedway, Smith is also excited that pack racing has returned to the big tracks, replacing the two-car tandem draft. ‘From all indications, pack racing will be back in Talladega and I am sure the fans are going to love the close side-by-side racing,’ said Smith. ‘We could see some of the two-car tandem drafting, but for the most part it will be the old-fashioned restrictor-plate racing at Talladega. Personally that’s the way I prefer it to be.’”



Smith has started nine Sprint Cup races at Talladega. He has three top-15 finishes with a best result of 12th in the 2010 fall race.

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